Twitter began as a tool for employees to communicate within a small group at a podcasting company called Odeo. That was March 2006. The instant messaging tool became public in July and Evan Williams, who was a founder of Odeo, along with Biz Stone and Jack Dorsey, who built the prototype of Twitter, formed The Obvious Corporation in October to acquire Odeo and its assets, which included Odeo.com and Twitter.com. Twitter then spun off into its own company in April 2007.
For a number of years, Twitter experienced tremendous growth. The more users signed up and used the service, the more records for total tweets per second were broken. Usage spiked particularly during large events. The current record for tweets per second was set during the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup Final between Japan and the United States, at 7,196 tweets.
By this time, it was clear that Twitter had the power of large scale, timely reach. It played a fundamental role in civil society as the communication tool from the Arab Spring to emergency rescue missions. And it probably supported the founders’ goal in the first place: to achieve social change through technology.
As a Fellow at Oxford University, coincidentally the host of the world’s largest forum on social entrepreneurship, Stone once participated in the 2008 Oxford Union debate, opposing the motion “This house believes that the problems of tomorrow are bigger than the entrepreneurs of today”. Together with three other team members including LinkedIn’s founder Reid Hoffman, they won the debate, suggesting the idea that entrepreneurs can have a positive impact on the world’s biggest problems.
While Twitter has played a monumental role in many past movements, the founders are going back to their roots. Stone and Williams are relaunching the parent company that once spun off Twitter. The Obvious Corporation is now going to be a company that builds systems to help people collaborate to improve the world. They have stated their own triple bottom line to go with it – positive impact, happiness, and financial reward.
The proliferation of technology can seem superfluous, but with the right approach, technology can benefit individuals, organizations, and society. We are relaunching the company that originally incubated Twitter with a high level of commitment to making a difference and developing products that matter. – Obvious.com
At the moment, they are not ready to dive into the specifics of the company model, but have already backed web companies Neighborland (Disclosure: I work on a separate project by its co-founder Candy Chang), Pinwheel, and Lift.
“Technology can help humanity work together to make our world a better place. Obvious operates under the assumption that this is a fundamental truth,” said Stone in a statement.
Social Enterprise Buzz is a media company dedicated to covering social enterprise news from around the world. We publish a range of stories from startups to entrepreneurship, innovation, and finance, which showcase business making the world a better place. Read more.